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14/10/13 00:01

Round the clock care

£4m investment to trial innovative approaches.

The NHS in Scotland must be a genuinely seven day service where required, according to Health Secretary Alex Neil.

Speaking at the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) 2013 conference, Mr Neil said that, although the NHS in Scotland already offers round the clock, more should be done to move away from variations in how care is provided at the weekend.

A taskforce of senior NHS and Scottish Government officials will be set up to oversee the changes.

The Health Secretary also announced additional investment of £4 million which will test innovative approaches from across the world.

Five health boards will adopt different systems to improve the flow of patients through the entire health system, from the very first contact they make with the NHS, and this work will be used to make improvements across the health service in Scotland.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Neil said:

“Our health service already offers round the clock care – and the standard of care does not vary on the basis of when it is needed. The key principles of safety will always be at the heart of what we do in the NHS.

“However, care will be delivered differently at 3am in the morning compared to 3pm in the afternoon. It will be different on a Thursday compared to a Sunday.

“While the quality and safety doesn’t vary, the NHS must be a genuinely seven day service where it needs to be. That is my vision and I am determined to make it happen.

“It should mean that pharmacists, physiotherapists, porters - all the services you need to help patients move through and be discharged from hospital - are on hand every day of the week.

“Changes towards 24/7 care are already happening in some areas, and patients across Scotland already have access at any time of the day to see a GP or another member of the Primary Services Medical Team. But we need to accelerate the pace of change, and make it happen everywhere.

“That is why I have asked senior leaders in the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland to work together with key stakeholders, and to report back to me very soon, on how they will agree and implement the changes required to make this vision a reality. This will help ensure our NHS works around the clock, seven days a week for patients, when they need it.”

Dr Iain Wallace, of the Association of Medical Directors said: “Scottish medical directors recognise the importance for the sustainable delivery of person-centred, safe and effective care that the NHS in Scotland needs to move towards a position where care can be provided at a consistent level over seven days. We welcome additional investment to test different approaches to achieving this challenging goal.”

Elizabeth Stow staff side chair of the Scottish Terms and Conditions Committee, said: “Staff side are committed to patients receiving the right services when needed and we will continue to work closely with Scottish Government and health boards through our existing partnership structures to negotiate any changes which will be better for patients.”

Notes to editors

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Borders, NHS Tayside, NHS Forth Valley and NHS Lanarkshire will test worldwide approaches to improving healthcare and the results from the projects will be used to deliver improvements across Scotland.

The Health Secretary will also commit to implementing many of the recommendations in the Royal College of Physicians recent report – Future Hospital: caring for medical patients.

These include:

- extending the role of hospital physicians into the community

- acutely ill patients in hospital should have the same access to medical care on the weekend as on a week day

- there will be a consultant presence on wards over 7 days

- care for patients should focus on their recovery and enable them to leave hospital as soon as clinical needs allow, supported by appropriate care in the community, where it is needed.

ISQua is the International Society for Quality in Health Care. The 30th international conference is being held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre 13 - 16 October 2013.